|Russian President Vladimir Putin|
Russia President Vladimir Putin on Friday demanded a new armament drive similar to the one orchestrated by the dictator Stalin in the worst years of his reign of terror in the 1930s.
"We must modernise our defence industry as comprehensively as it was done in the 1930s," Putin told top security ministers at the weekly Russian Security Council meeting.
Stalin helped revolutionise Russia's backward tsarist-era industry through a state campaign that relied heavilly on slave labour and was accompanied by political repression in which millions of people died over the years.
Russia has announced a massive armaments programme for the coming decade that should see 23 trillion rubles ($710 billion) spent on 400 ballistic missiles and 600 warplanes along with an entire fleet of submarines.
The plan has put pressure on other sectors of Putin's budget and on outdated Soviet-era military factories which are unable to cope with the sudden surge in demand for a new generation of weaponry.
Putin has expressed repeated frustration at the military churning out products such as tanks and weapons systems that cost more than their Western rivals while often failing in reliability tests.
The former KGB agent -- his macho image in his 12-year leadership career boosted by periodic televised spins in fighter jets and new tanks -- said he would make military purchases a focal point of his third term.
Putin said he had already asked his ministers to submit effective fixes to the military procurement process at the end of last year and again early this year.
"I still have not received your proposals. They are simply not there," Putin fumed. "If this continues, we will never be able to make (military) procurements on time."
Putin added that efficiency at enterprises might be improved if private players were allowed to acquire stakes in military production centres that they could then operate as profit-seeking businesses.
"We have to break down old stereotypes of the type that say only specialised state companies and agencies can involve themselves in defence," Putin said.